En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 23, 2009

From: Rockwall, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen for Rockwall, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dallas area privacy screen recommendations. I have about 125ft of wrought iron fence between my yard and the neighbor's and a drainage pipe that runs along the fence. The neighbor's property sits up about 2-3 ft higher than mine; the fence is 5 ft tall. I want a privacy screen of at least 6 ft tall or higher, fast growing, keep its leaves all year long, and not take up much of my yard (width-wise). All nurseries recommend ligustrum but it will take up too much of the yard. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

First, let us reinforce your reluctance to go with ligustrum. Both Ligustrum sinense (Chinese privet) and Ligustrum japonica are native to Asia.  They can get very big and somewhat overwhelming, are considered invasive in southeast Texas, can form thickets, crowd out more desirable plants and are difficult to remove. Not only that, they have flowers with a rather unpleasant odor and produce  abundant pollen to add to allergy woes. It is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 10, and every once in a while, a really cold spell hits the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and knocks down ligustrum all over the place.

There are native alternatives for your privacy screen. We don't necessarily recommend very fast-growing plants, because they tend to break down easily and are short-lived. And the fact that a plant is "evergreen" does not mean it never drops leaves. Leaves drop and are replaced over the course of the year, just not all at once. It seems we keep recommending the same two or three shrubs in these frequent requests we get for "privacy screen" plants. The problem is that not a great many woody plants are evergreen, and the few trees that are, including live oaks and conifers, get a whole lot wider than what you have in mind. So, here once more are our "privacy screen stars:"

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - evergreen, 12 to 25 ft., more common in southeast Texas, but adaptable. Takes pruning very well to maintain desired height and width. Sun, part shade.

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - Evergreen, 6 to 12 ft., fragrant foliage. Looser, lighter form, can be pruned into tree or shrub. Sun, part shade.


Ilex vomitoria

 


Ilex vomitoria

 


Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera
 

More Privacy Screening Questions

California Vine for Privacy Screening
November 06, 2014 - I have a two story house going up behind my back yard. I would like to plant a climbing vine with non-invasive roots to provide privacy. I live in Los Angeles and the trellis would receive almost full...
view the full question and answer

Alternate native plants for bamboo as a privacy screen in Austin, TX.
July 26, 2011 - Can you recommend a bamboo that I can plant, acting as a privacy screen, reaching at least 10'-12'? We are looking for a bamboo that does not spread, and can take the afternoon sun. It will be pla...
view the full question and answer

Plants to augment a privacy fence in Virginia Beach.
February 24, 2009 - I live in Virginia Beach, VA and I have a small back yard about 75 ft deep and 60 ft wide. We have a six ft privacy fence but still have many undesirable views over the fence I would love to block out...
view the full question and answer

Large shrub or tree for front door in Houston
January 16, 2013 - I am in search of a shrub or tree to plant next to my front door. I want a showy medium sized shrub or tree (8 to 12 ft), decorative, and a privacy screen since my front door faces my next door neig...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen tree for privacy screen in Granbury Texas
December 21, 2014 - We need to put an evergreen privacy screen between our barn and our neighbor's new 132' long, unattractive building, which runs along & is just 40' away from our fence line & where they have decid...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center